|An Address in Lewiston, Maine
[Aug. 18, 1906]
Mr. Chairman,1 Fellow Citizens, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen: I assure you that my entrance into your city for the purpose that I have come here has been undertaken with a great deal of diffidence and consideration. It is not a small matter for a man from another section of our country to come to your city and to the various cities and towns and villages of the second district of Maine and to lay before you such matters as by reason of their importance make it essential for a man who has some conception of his duty as a man and a citizen to come here despite how uncongenial may be such a mission.
Last June2 it was my pleasure and my duty to come to the city of Lewiston to attend the convention3 of the State Federation of Labor in Maine, and during an address that I delivered to that body I took occasion to refer to the fact that the members of congress and the members of our various legislatures had proven themselves to so large an extent indifferent, negligent and hostile to labor that the working people and the business people, and the thinking people were becoming utterly tired of the modern politician who is misnamed a statesman; and as it is not my custom to conduct a long range criticism of anyone it seemed to me to be a duty devolving upon me to call the attention of the delegates then assembled to the conspicuous indifference, aye, hostility of the gentleman who is a member of congress from the second district of Maine. I am frank to tell you that I was astonished at the response with which my criticism was met by the gentlemen who constituted that convention and who after its close insisted that I should make practically the same statement in public before a mass meeting to be held on that same evening in this hall, and those of you who were present well remember the splendid gathering then, my criticism of your congressman on that evening and the response it met with at the hands of those who were assembled. At the close of that meeting a number of men and women came upon this platform and not only took me by the hand heartily and enthusiastically, but urged me that it was my duty to come again to Maine and in this campaign expose the conduct of this mis-representative of the people of the second district.
It was there and then that I said to a number of gentlemen and ladies who came up and spoke to me and congratulated me upon the course that I had pursued that I would come here, and I have never yet intentionally broken my word or my promise when I have made it.
Since then several things have transpired and among them has been the nomination of the Honorable Charles E. Littlefield for a renomination to congress. It is not necessary for me to attempt to lose one moment in the discussion of the presentation of the facts of how that nomination was secured. You are as well informed as to that and perhaps better than I am. I shall leave that both to the conscience, even if it be somewhat elastic, of Mr. Littlefield, and the judgment of the gentlemen who were so sorely and utterly betrayed by that proceeding.4
But since Mr. Littlefield's nomination, he has taken occasion to refer to your humble servant quite frequently; in fact, if the newspapers report him accurately Mr. Littlefield has not made one speech, whether it be of an hour, or more or less, but what the major portion of that speech was devoted to Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor. For all of which distinguished honor I am profoundly grateful!
But there must be some justification for my coming here. There must be some reason. And having determined to come I find for instance that Mr. Littlefield has made my path and task considerably easier, for if you will remember at Rockland on August 1st he made a speech in which he disposed of this whole matter--my whole mission, in a word. Quoting him accurately from the newspaper which published his address, he said:
"I will, in a word dispose of his denunciation of me as an enemy to the laboring man and of organized labor by challenging him to produce from my public or private record either in word or deed anything that will sustain that charge."
There is an old maxim that angels fear to tread where fools rush in. I shall not attempt to pretend to deceive you that I am under the impression that Mr. Littlefield is a fool, for he is not, and I have good reason to know it. But that he evidently believed that workmen had short memories, that he believed that they were fools, aye, that I was a fool is quite evident by the boldness and rashness of his challenge.
I accept Mr. Littlefield's challenge to prove by his public record and by the record that I shall submit to you this evening, and leave with you to decide whether he is or is not an enemy not only to the interests of labor, but an enemy to the people of the second district of Maine.
The First Charges
In 1895 Congress passed a law which abolished the system of imprisoning seamen who would for any good reason to themselves,--ill-treatment of a master, fear of the condition of the ship, the desire to improve his condition,--Congress gave him a right to leave his vessel when that vessel was in safe harbor, the vessel being engaged in the coast-wise trade of the United States.
In other words it abolished slavery for the seamen who were engaged in the coast-wise trade.
In the 57th Congress, the Hon Chas. E. Littlefield was a member of the House committee on merchant marine and fisheries, and I charge him here and now with championing a bill5 for the re-establishment of imprisonment and slavery for the seamen who desired to leave their employment. It was only because the seamen of Maine, of New York, of Massachusetts and of other states in our Union, and from seaport towns in our Union who sent representatives and delegations of seamen to Washington to protest against the passage of that law and prevented a favorable report from the sub-committee of the committee on merchant marine and fisheries on that bill.
Everyone who has had some experience in a seaport town knows what is meant by the crimping system. Everyone knows that the crimp is a slang name for the agents or owners of rum-shops, keepers of houses of prostitution, who take in charge as soon as they can a seaman, get him under the influence of liquor, keep him in that condition as long as they possibly can, bring him into the houses of prostitution, and under the influence of drink and the surroundings get the seaman to sign an allotment of his wages in advance of their being earned to this crimp, and the law and the system permit and authorize the master of a vessel or the company to honor the allotment of wages to be earned and they were deducted from the seaman's wages and paid to the crimp.
Under the system then in vogue many men, who perhaps thinking it might be quite honorable graft, and who had the employment of the seamen, in the language of the street "stood in" with the crimp and would only take such seamen as were recommended by the crimp, and who in turn corrupted the seamen by drink and debauchery. Congress saw the wisdom of changing that and passed a law6 that in the coastwise trade of the United States the seamen could only advance or allot their wages in advance of their being earned to the wife or those who were dependent upon the seamen for support, and by that to a very large degree abolished the crimp.
I charge the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield, member of Congress, with championing a bill7 in Congress for the reestablishment of the crimping system.
And let me add, my friends, that had it not been that in the house of representatives at that time filibustering was being resorted to upon general legislation, that bill championed by Mr. Littlefield, would have passed.
There is so much it doesn't admit of argument, it doesn't admit of appeals, it simply demands a mere presentation of the facts.
Ship Subsidy Iniquitous.
We all understand what is meant by the ship subsidy bill. Now there are a number of men who differ upon the principle as well as the policy of subsidizing the building, or the running or operation of ships, but, and I say this to you as a matter of principle, as a matter of right, the ship subsidy proposition is iniquitous where it proposes to tax all the people for a special industry, but quite apart from that men may honestly differ upon that proposition. Let us concede for a moment that Mr. Littlefield honestly is in favor of a ship-subsidy. Then I ask you, my friends, why does Mr. Littlefield insist that in a bill to subsidize the operation of ships should be a provision that shall compel the seamen who want to earn an honest livelihood by going down to the sea in ships, why does he want to make it a condition that they shall sign a contract that at the same time enlists them in the Navy of the United States? Why does he make conscription forcible; enlistment forcible; enlistment in the navy of the United States a condition upon which a man can find employment with a private company? I ask not only the seamen, for from them could come but one answer,--but I ask the workmen of other trades and other callings how would you like it to be a condition of your getting employment at your trade that you must whenever called upon by the employer, who by the terms of the bill is made the one to report, to compel you to join the Army? I ask the business men and the professional men whether they would regard that as proper.
A Voice--Did that man sign a bill to that effect?
Mr. Gompers--No, he didn't sign it, because he doesn't sign bills. He is not the President of the United States.
I had the honor of appearing before the committee and while I made clear the position of labor and so large a portion of our people in opposition to the ship subsidy bill in principle, I also tried to impress upon the minds of the committee that we were particularly opposed to any attempt to inject into any bill a compulsory service in the army or the navy and making that a condition of employment.
I want no man to misunderstand me nor misunderstand the position of organized labor or of the laboring people generally. We take second position to none in our country in our patriotism and in love of the institutions of our country. Search the records of any time when there was peril either threatened or indeed at our doors, and the workmen from factory, field, work-shop, mill and mine came forward and offered up their services and their lives upon the altar of our country. And what they have done since our country was formed, aye, and what they did to contribute to the establishment of the independence of this republic needs no defence or eulogium at my hands. The record stands for itself,--the splendid contribution of their blood to abolish black slavery, to maintain the Union, and when they entered into that sympathetic strike to secure independence for Cuba.
I charge the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield with by trickery and device, and without the general knowledge of the people of our country, attempting to inject into the ship-subsidy bill a scheme for conscription of seamen.
I charge the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield further, not only with advocating that bill and furthering it as best he could in spite of a decided majority of his committee, made up of his own partisans largely,--he could not secure a majority of the committee to report that bill,--and I charge that he, together with a coterie of unscrupulous men, with getting some few men, ship-builders, boilermakers and men employed at iron-shipbuilding, who had been repudiated by their own organizations, and one of them removed from office,8 and bringing them down to Washington to make it appear before the committee that the boilermakers and iron shipbuilder workmen of the country were in favor of the ship-subsidy bill; and in view of the fact, further, that the only organization of the trade, the Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Iron-shipbuilders,9 at the convention10 of that organization within two months prior to that time to which I refer, with scarcely a dissenting vote repudiated the proposition of the principle of ship-subsidy.11
I come to a question that has been more or less exploited by Mr. Littlefield, and from what he had been permitted to say unchallenged has been taken for gospel truth. I refer to the much discussed bill12 for the abolition of compulsory pilotage. I am not a seaman. When I get near Portland I usually get seasick, not because it is Portland, but simply because of the rippling of the waves. Consequently I am not competent to talk matters of the sea, but I have travelled some on the ocean, and I am very well acquainted with a large number of seamen, the country over. Mr. Littlefield's bill proposes to abolish the compulsory pilotage in any port of the country. You who have travelled and you who have read of seamen's experiences, you who know the constant watch and danger, you who know the terrific accidents which often occur, quite too often.
If there had been a woman or a man at sea in storm or stress, you know that the man in charge of the vessel is all eyes looking for a pilot, so that he may know he is near a safe port. The mere knowledge of the good tidings which a pilot may bring brings cheer and encouragement and hope and safety.
Abolish compulsory pilotage and the pilots cannot maintain themselves upon those who want pilots in stress or storm. Storms arise, wonderfully quick, unexpectedly and out of the clearest skies often the biggest squall and the greatest storms begin. I am in sympathy with the pilots, but the pilots to me,--that is, the occupation of the pilots, is not half so important as the real essence of the question, and the essence of the question is that labor and the thinking people of our country and some of the members of congress at any rate have some little more consideration for the seamen and for the passengers upon vessels rather than the saving of a few dollars expended for a pilot. Owners may insure their vessels and the cargo; they don't insure the lives of the seamen or the lives of the passengers. They may go down without any care or any insurance for those who are left behind.
But I want to say a word or two apart from the merits or rather the demerits of Mr. Littlefield's bill. I charge the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield with suborning two workmen into committing perjury and palming themselves off at Congress as representing organized labor of Maine. One poor fellow,13 for his own sake I won't mention his name, came to Washington and presented credentials certifying that he represented the Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Iron Shipbuilders of Bath, Maine.
(A disturbance in the rear of the hall caused Mr. Gompers to remark: I want to say in passing that I had information that effort was going to be made to divert the attention of the audience by the paid hirelings of Mr. Littlefield.)
That man came with a credential signed and sealed certifying that he represented a local lodge14 of the Brotherhood of Iron Shipbuilders of America, consisting of 400 members. When he appeared before the committee in Washington he was compelled to admit when I confronted him with the evidence that the lodge of 400 members that he was supposed to represent had disbanded more than a year before that time.
Another workman,15 a barber, also accompanied him and pretended that he represented organized labor,--the Central Labor Union of Rockland, Maine. Upon investigation it was found that the gentleman did not consult the Central Labor Union at all. He and the other gentleman to whom I referred had both been paid to go to Washington and to pretend to represent organized labor in behalf of the bill. And I charge Mr. Littlefield and his man Friday, Mr. Plummer,16 with fixing up that job to corrupt and suborn two workmen who couldn't withstand the wiles and the brilliant ability of these two gentlemen.
And I want to say by the way that Mr. Plummer has issued a challenge to me to debate with him the question of the re-election of Mr. Littlefield being inimical to the interests of labor, and he wants one-half of the time at my meetings. Not an ungenerous offer to take half of my time at my meetings, when I haven't half time enough. That challenge was sent to me through Mr. Wight,17 the chairman of the republican congressional committee of the second district of Maine, but I want to say to Mr. Plummer that I have more important work to do than to waste words with a turn-coat such as he.
The Eight-Hour Law.
You know that we have been trying for years to secure an amendment to the eight-hour law. That there has been some defect in it is acknowledged; that it has not been enforced as it should have been is quite evident by the order18 issued by President Roosevelt ordering that the officers of the United States shall enforce the law. By reason of the fact of differing opinions rendered by the attorney general and by the courts we have sought an amendment to that law so that it should extend to the work performed by contractors who do government work, and who now evade the plain intention of the law, though attorneys general have decided that by reason of the misplacement of a comma it doesn't apply where we thought it did apply. Now I want to call your attention to this fact that the hearings on that bill have been going on for more than six years, and at the last Congress the committee on labor referred the subject to the department of commerce and labor to answer six questions. The department of commerce and labor after six or seven months' investigation said that the questions were incapable of comprehensive answer. In order to delay the consideration of the eight-hour bill, when the opponents had spoken themselves to a finish and could not longer talk they had one of their lawyers sit down and read the hearings before that same committee several years before; sit down deliberately to read ancient history for the benefit of the committee. And we all had to listen simply for the purpose of delay.
This morning I received a letter from Quincy, Mass. I have retained the envelope as a verification of the letter and the time of its receipt, and I want to read the letter to you:--
"No. 3 Edward street, Quincy, Mass.
"Mr. Samuel Gompers,
["]President American Federation of Labor,
["]The daily press informs me that you intend to oppose the election of Charles E. Littlefield of the Second Congressional District of Maine. I can perhaps furnish you with one of the many acts of the gentleman in his hostility to union labor. The machinists' union19 of Bath, Maine, passed by a unanimous vote a resolution urging him, Mr. Littlefield, to vote for the bill to amend the eight-hour law; that all shipyards building ships for the United States employ their men eight hours. This resolution was signed by the President20 and secretary21 and sent to Mr. Littlefield in Washington. Shortly after Mr. John S. Hyde,22 the vice-president of the Bath Iron Works visited Washington. This resolution was read by Mr. Hyde and on his return to Bath the signers were discharged for exercising their constitutional rights as American citizens. You should mention this.
"Charles W. Hanscom,
["]President of the Union, No. 189,
["]International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers,23
["]No. 3, Edwards St. Quincy, Mass."
A man, a citizen, a workman, writing to his congressman urging him to vote in favor of the bill, giving the information to the employer of this petitioner, and the workman thereupon suffers discharge. The Hon. Charles E. Littlefield of Maine!
Favors Ship Building.
We hear much, and it is true, that the ship-building industry in Maine is lagging, but I ask you whether there is anyone either in this audience, in this State or in this country that doesn't favor the re-juvenation of the ship-building of Maine and of our entire country. We believe that there is enough ingenuity in the American business man and the American workman to make the ship-building of our entire country a success if it is undertaken with the same energy and enthusiasm that other captains of industry enter into their business. But my friends I want to ask you this question, or I want to present you a few facts. You know that there is now going out of the harbors of Maine and the seaports of Maine, as there are from other ports of our country, steamers having in tow four, five and more barges, mastless hulks, rotten hulks, laden beyond the water line with cargo. Not one of the barges that are towed are capable of controlling themselves by their own power or men for five minutes in fair weather, much less in stress or storm. Whenever a storm arises upon the seas when there is one of these steamers that is towing the barges, what do they do? There are perhaps one or two men in a barge. They cut them adrift and they may drift along if they can or go down to Davy Jones' locker to a watery grave,--with men and cargo destroyed.
We, the representatives of labor and the friends of humanity believe that there is a way to upbuild the ship industry of Maine as it was prior to this towing of large numbers of hulks and barges, and far surpassing it, if the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield had performed one scintilla of his duty as a representative of second district of Maine, in which there are such large ship-building interests. I did not have a copy of the bill24 when I came to Maine and I sent to Washington to have the text of the bill telegraphed to me and I hold the telegraphic copy of that bill in my hand.
That bill was introduced on Dec. 4, 1905, and referred to the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, the committee of which Mr. Littlefield is so conspicuous a man. "A bill to protect the lives of seamen engaged in the coastwise traffic between the states. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled: That it is hereby declared to be unlawful for the owner, lessee, manager or master of any steam vessel to contract or undertake to tow or to engage in towing from a port of one state to a port of another state fifty miles or more distant more than one barge or other vessel at a time, unless the barges or vessel towed or agreed to be towed be fully equipped for self-propulsion by steam power; that every violation of this act shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both fine and imprisonment."
Do you see if that bill were enacted into law it would not only save needless sacrifice of lives of seamen and destruction of property,--it would not only mean that, but it would compel the building of vessels that could propel themselves in stress or storm and give to the ship-building industry of Maine an impetus and an encouragement it could receive in no other way, and it would mean a great revival in that industry.
On Trust Legislation.
You have heard that a bill25 was introduced into Congress limiting the hours of labor of railroads engaged in interstate commerce, whether of passenger or freight trains, to sixteen in any twenty-four hours. Did you hear a whimper, did you hear a word from the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield in advocacy of that bill? Has he said a word up to this moment in this campaign, notwithstanding his professions of sympathy and profound regard for labor?
I want to call your attention to the fact,--all that is necessary is to call your attention to it, and it will come to your mind in a moment, like a flash. You know that for many years the people of our country were agitated upon the question of trusts and combinations of capital. You know that the political parties in their conventions discussed this question, and I want to read to you the declaration of the republican convention of 1888 upon that subject.
They said: "We declare our opposition to all combinations of capital, organization in trusts or otherwise to control arbitrarily the condition of trade among our citizens, and we recommend to congress and the State legislatures in their respective jurisdictions such legislation as will prevent the execution of all schemes to oppress the people by undue charges on their supplies or by unjust rates for the transportation of their products to market."
My friends, do you observe that that declaration of the republican party platform was against the combination of capital in trusts and a demand for the regulation of those who combined as to the products of labor. I think it does not require much of discernment to see at once that the republican party never had in mind the man who labors with his hands, never had in mind the man who works at the forge, who works in the mill factory, workshop or mine.
The republican party had in mind the combinations of capital and those who trafficked in the product of labor and had no reference at all to the laboring man. The congress two years after, or on July 2, 1890, passed what was known as the Sherman anti-trust law. Its very title signifies what was meant. But what was done? The courts began issuing their injunctions under the anti-trust law. Of course labor was disappointed and chagrined. When Mr. Littlefield became a member of congress he with others advocated a bill26 to amend the trust law,--the Sherman anti-trust law, and looking over that bill we discovered that there was a little colored gentleman in that woodpile, and instead of it being an amendment to strengthen the existing Sherman law against the trusts, it was a law to ensnare and entangle labor still further. We discovered that. We asked Mr. Littlefield to take an amendment that we had prepared to the committee and have it considered. Mr. Littlefield refused. We could not get it endorsed by the majority members on that committee, and we then asked the minority members and they accepted it. I want to read only a few words from the congressional record the 56th Congress, page 6994.
"The Speaker:27 To this section an amendment which will be read by the clerk has been offered by the minority of the committee.
["]The clerk read as follows: Amend section 7 as proposed by the committee by inserting between the first words 'that' and 'this' in the first line of said section the following words, to wit: 'Nothing in this act shall be construed as to apply to trade unions or other labor organizations organized for the purpose of regulating wages, hours of labor or other conditions under which labor is performed.' Mr. Ray28 of N.Y. Against that provision I raise a point of order that it is not in order, not being germane to this section.
["]The Speaker: The Chair overrules the point of order. The Chair would have held the provision out of order, but the question is on agreeing to the amendment.["]
(And I just want to insert here that it was not Speaker Cannon then).
["]The question being taken, the Speaker announced, the ayes appear to have it.
["]Mr. Richardson: I call for the yeas and nays.
["]The question was taken and there were ayes 259, nays 9."
I shall not burden you with reading the names of the 259 who voted for it, but I will read to you the names of the gentlemen who voted against it.
The names are Aldrich,29 Allen,30 Bailey,31 Butler,32 Calderhead,33 Hitt,34 Long,35 Cannon and the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield.
The bill passed the House despite the committee. When the House passed the bill with the amendment to exclude the organizations of labor that aimed to protect the only thing that the workmen had, their power to labor, then Mr. Littlefield had no further interest in the bill. And it at once disclosed the fact that Mr. Littlefield didn't have the trusts in mind when that bill was framed, but that he did have the much despised organizations of labor that are trying to do their level best to protect the rights and liberties and the homes and firesides of the wage earners of our country.
The Fuersuth Incident.
I want to call to your attention that Mr. Littlefield in his speech on August 12th at Rockport makes the charge against me of which I shall take notice. He accuses me of denouncing the President of the United States as an enemy of human liberty. I want to read Mr. Littlefield's speech or the part of it referring to me, and I think that is not doing him an injustice. He said:--
"Mr. Fuersuth was discussing the bill36 relating to injunctions that had been in terms favorably recommended by the President in his message. Mr. Fuersuth read from a typewritten manuscript showing that it was deliberate and premeditated. Mr. Gompers sat near him all of the time that he was reading from the manuscript.
"In reading the manuscript Fuersuth said: 'It is said that this bill has the endorsement of the President. That cannot be.' On the contrary Mr. Fuersuth knew that it was. 'If he understands this bill and then gives it his endorsement he is an enemy to honest labor struggling under adverse conditions for a better life, and he would be an enemy to human liberty. We do not believe it; will not believe it.' On the contrary he knew that the President approved of the bill which he attacked, so that his assertion was and was intended to be a deliberate one that the President was an enemy to human liberty. Mr. Gompers, as I have remarked, sat near Mr. Fuersuth during the deliberate denunciation of the President. Mr. Gompers after a few minutes followed in opposition to the same bill and the following colloquy occurred between him and Mr. Littlefield.
["]Mr. Littlefield--'I simply ask this as a general question. Do your organizations indorse the several restrictions placed upon H.R. 9328 by Mr. Fuersuth?'
["]Mr. Gompers--'We are opposed to the bill, whether in the exact language of Mr. Fuersuth or not is not the question.'
["]Mr. Gompers--'We are apprehensive, yes, sir, of that bill, and we have grave reasons for being apprehensive.'
["]Mr. Littlefield--'Mr. Fuersuth had some very vigorous opinions. I don't know whether you entertain or share them with him.'
["]Mr. Gompers--'I share them very largely.'
["]Mr. Gompers--'I only had the opportunity of casually hearing them and hence I am not in a position to say whether every word of what Mr. Fuerseth said meets my approval.'
["]Mr. Littlefield--'Oh yes, of course not.'
["]Mr. Gompers--'But the essence of it meets my endorsement.'
"So that," Mr. Littlefield goes on, "Mr. Gompers after hearing the assertion made by Mr. Fuersuth deliberately ratified it and endorsed it and charged the President of the United States with being an enemy of human liberty."
I want to call your attention to this, my friends, first that at the hearing immediately after Mr. Fuersuth closed Mr. Littlefield questioned me and I there and then said that I did not know whether I endorsed the language that Mr. Fuersuth employed, but in his criticism of the bill known as the administration bill I very largely shared his opinions,--in his criticism of the bill. And now let me say further,--you will remember that I also said that I only casually heard what Mr. Fuersuth had said. I entered the room where the committee on judiciary was conducting that hearing after Mr. Fuersuth had begun reading and had read several pages and remained for about eight or nine minutes in the room and then had to leave to confer with a number of gentlemen who called me out for a conference outside of the committee room, and one of our friends who was in the committee room,--I think it was Mr. Grimes, our legislative agent, who came out to me and said, "Mr. Gompers, the committee is waiting for you," and I say here and now that when the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield said that I either directly or indirectly denounced or assented to any denunciation of the President of the United States he says that which is absolutely untrue.
I want to say further that I did not know of this indirect denunciation or criticism of the President until I read the manuscript later.
(Some disturbance occurring in the rear of the hall, Mr. Gompers remarked: "I know, my friends, it is a warm night, but Mr. Littlefield has challenged me to prove that he is an enemy to labor and wants me to prove it from his record and I propose to do it.")
You know that Mr. Littlefield has made some very caustic remarks in regard to your humble servant and to labor generally in the request that it makes to congress for a bill to limit the issuance of injunctions, a bill to curb the courts in the abuse of that most beneficent writ. You who have read his speeches know that he charges us with wanting to legalize threats to do bodily harm and threats to murder. Well let me say to you, my friends, that the real merit in Mr. Littlefield's assertion is that there is no truth to it.
I charge Mr. Littlefield with wilfully misquoting and misstating the terms of the bill37 introduced into Congress at the request of labor by Mr. Peary38 of Maryland.
I say with the bill before him, because he quotes other portions of the bill accurately. I charge him with the bill before him with deliberately misquoting and mis-stating the terms of the bill.
There is not time this evening to enter into a full discussion of that question. I shall deal with it only in a few minutes and I say this now that I shall prepare a statement and give it to the newspapers or such newspapers as are willing to publish it within the next two days, exposing Mr. Littlefield's misquotation and mis-statements in specific terms, and to show how utterly his mind is warped by the dollar mark so that he cannot see human liberty for dollars. But sufficient for this evening if I may for a few moments say that labor asks for no immunity from the law. We want no exceptional right but we protest against class tyranny. We oppose and we object to the injunction being issued against labor men, men engaged in a dispute to protect themselves and their fellows, their wives and their little ones.
I charge that these injunctions are the legislation of the judges and not the law of the land or the law of the statutes. I charge that these injunctions are issued at the behest of the powerful and strong, of the wealthy as against the man of labor, and I charge the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield to be so much enmeshed in corporate influence that he must ever raise his voice and vote against a measure that promises some relief from corporate power.
We hold that if a labor man or a number of labor men are guilty of any unlawful or criminal act they should be treated the same as any other man who may be guilty of any unlawful or criminal act. Supposing a number of men, not labor men, but other men,--or put it this way, supposing a man, not a labor man, went along the streets of Lewiston and whispered around that he was going to do some bodily harm to John Jones. Supposing that he said or whispered around or boasted that he was going to murder some man. Do you think that the court would issue an injunction prohibiting him from doing so? If a man or a body of men did that wouldn't the police officers just grab them, arrest them for criminal conspiracy to do bodily harm or to commit murder. They would be arrested. They would be tried. They would be charged with an offense. They would be confronted by a jury of their peers who would determine their innocence or guilt.
We say that if one or more workmen for any reason, whether in labor disputes or not, do that self-same thing, they have police to arrest them, there are the jails in which they can be confined, the grand juries which can indict them, the judges and the juries to try them and if they are guilty to convict them and send them to prison. But we say that the issuance of the injunction is simply a pretense. An injunction would not stop murder or an assault or a riot of those who were bent on doing it, but in the injunctions are also included a prohibition to persuade, to meet, to converse, to hold gatherings, to advise, to assemble, to come together, to send letters of the most innocent character, and thus, my friends, any workman can allow himself to be enjoined and follow the terms of that injunction and then the workman has been guilty of no crime, no unlawful act.
Anybody else in the country may do it but a workman engaged in a labor dispute, and when he does so he is guiltless of any crime except that he exercises his constitutional and statutory and natural right, but he has offended the dignity of the court if he violates the terms of the injunction and he is sent to prison.
I charge Mr. Littlefield with encouraging these things and I want to call your attention to the fact that the Hon. Charles H. Grosvenor39 made this speech in regard to that subject. It is only a few lines. "One would suppose to read the hysterical shrieks of the number of lobbyists who have been here that there was something new here that had never been here before in proposing this legislation. This bill40 was first introduced in the 57th congress in the early part of the session. Wide notice was given of its presence in the committee on the judiciary and after a full study by that eminent committee, over which your predecessor, Mr. Chairman,41 Mr. Ray of New York, presided, on the tenth day of April, 1902, the bill was reported with a favorable report to the house and placed on the calendar." I may add that Mr. Ray is now Judge Ray of the United States court in New York, occupying a distinguished position as a lawyer and representative of the people. Do you know, my friends, that a majority of the judiciary committee of the house of representatives reported the anti-injunction bill favorably. The Hon. Charles E. Littlefield of Maine submitted a minority report against it. Let me say, too, that the anti-injunction bill passed the house of representatives on two separate occasions, once by a unanimous vote. Where was Mr. Littlefield in his consistency or his vote?
I want to call your attention to something which is quite novel. There are new elements in this campaign, decidedly new elements. One of them who has become an ally to Mr. Littlefield in advocating his election is Mr. C. W. Post, the gentleman who manufactures "Gripe" nuts and "falsehood." Mr. Post, for his organization, has sent around letters to every voter or nearly every voter. I have met a number of voters who have received letters or a printed letter as if a copy of handwriting, in which he asks the voters not to pay any attention to organized labor for the staunch. Let me quote him exactly: "This election seems to be a test between the labor trust and the common people." The Hon. Charles E. Littlefield is supposed to represent the common people, and we form a labor trust. A trust, as you know, is an organization of as few people as possible to control a corporation and to squeeze out as many as possible so that it will be confined to the fewest possible number. As to the organization of labor, which these people call the labor trust, we send out our organizers, our missionaries and invite the world of workers to come in and share with us the responsibilities and the benefits that come from associated effort. But for fear that you may not know the views of Mr. Littlefield's ally I want to read just a sentence of a speech made by Mr. Post before the International Association of Manufacturers42 at Atlanta, Ga. He says: "A workman carries some boards to the building and a horse hauls some more. Both are paid an agreed, understood and full equivalent for their service. The horse his oats, hay and water, and the workman his money."
That is the philosophy of labor, the philosophy of humanity as understood by the advocate and ally of the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield!
But Mr. Littlefield has other allies. One of them is a gentleman whom I am told in the name of labor has attacked your humble servant. I do not know the gentleman. His name as I am told is Colonel Mulhall or Colonel Allen,43 but I want to call your attention to the fact that a few months ago, or to be accurate on December 16, 1905, I received a letter44 from Alfred D. Calhert,45 president of the Typographical Union No. 2 of Philadelphia, making some inquires of me regarding this Colonel Mulhall. He asked me who he was; that he said he had known me for fifteen years. He said also that he would like to find out something more in regard to him because he claimed to have carried the election in Maryland for Senator McComas,46 that he was a great labor man, and I am free to say to you that while all labor men do not agree with me and I am glad of it, yet there are not very many labor men who have taken an active part in public affairs of whom I have not at least some faint recollection or some knowledge, and yet I never knew of Colonel Mulhall. But apart from the fact of my ignorance on that point, yet I want to call your attention to the fact that President Calhert tells me in his letter that Colonel Mulhall acted as the agent of the Typothetae, the employing printers association to weaken the backbone of the striking printers in Philadelphia,47 to go as strike breakers to New York,48 and that in New York he was trying to weaken the strike there and bring them as strike breakers to Philadelphia. This Colonel Mulhall is another ally to the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield, and this man stands as the exponent of the cause of labor.
There is another ally of the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield--Mr. Charles A. Harriman. Mr. Harriman is now Mr. Littlefield's organizer of a new labor party.49 It is quite interesting how things develop. Hon. Charles E. Littlefield as the organizer and sponsor for a labor party. But I want to call your attention to a letter in my hand which I will read, and so that you may not be kept in suspense, I will say that is signed by Charles Harriman:--
"Rockland, Maine, March 30, 1906.
["]President American Federation of Labor,
["]I have been watching the Littlefield pilotage bill with deep interest; also the fight against it by the A.F. of L. I am sure that Mr. Littlefield always was and is an enemy to labor. Only a year ago he went against the eight-hour bill I presented to the labor committee at Augusta. Mr. Gompers, I believed that I can see his finish. He has lost his grip on this city, the county he lost long ago, and he can be defeated in this district this fall very easy. I am city committee, Ward No. 5, also county committee member on the democratic side and if I held a commission as organizer of the A.F. of L. I could put him out of commission this fall. I have a body of men called the tigers, 140 in numbers. We turned this city over last election. I can send for a charter as soon as I get a commission, as our boys wish me to organize them. I can organize Thomaston also. In fact this State wants live organizers."
He blesses me and then there are some things of a personal nature which have no reference to this subject we are discussing and I do not wish to divulge any private matters, other than a man writing to me upon a matter of importance and then allying himself with the man whom he says ought to be defeated and whose defeat is easy, and in that there are I think quite a large number who share that same view and will prove it on election day.
Uncle Joe A Trickster.
I understand that the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield is to be supported by no less personages than the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Cannon, and the secretary of war, Mr. Taft. I want to say to you that this alliance is perfectly natural. Speaker Cannon, who appointed the committees of the House with especial view as to the legislation which was to be passed and that which should not be passed, who was in entire accord with Mr. Littlefield upon the subject of labor's appeals. And there is no reason why Mr. Cannon should not come here and support that position, for behind that smile of Uncle Joe there is the most consummate trickery of any man in public life, and that trickery is not in the interest of the common people. You know the exhibition that he made of himself when the immigration bill50 was up, when he left his seat, coercing, browbeating, threatening members to vote against the immigration bill demanded by four-fifths of the people of the country.
Mr. Taft, when he was judge of a federal court issued one of the earliest and most offensive and unjust injunctions.51 It is quite easy to see that Secretary Taft, former Judge Taft, would try to defend the man who opposes and stands between relief for labor, justice for men, and the abuse of the injunctive power by the judges.
But I cannot for the life of me understand how Mr. Littlefield should try to shield himself behind the proud form of the President of the United States, Mr. Roosevelt. Did Mr. Littlefield prove himself so staunch a supporter of the legislation desired and recommended by the President? Not a conspicuous feature of legislation for which President Roosevelt stood but was opposed by voice and vote by the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield of the Second District of Maine. That he is a lawyer and an able lawyer, aye, a brilliant lawyer, I won't undertake to dispute. That the corporations have able and brilliant lawyers no one disputes, but in what instance has Mr. Littlefield since he has reached the House of Representatives demonstrated his human sympathy, his broad or constructive statesmanship in the interests of the common people. A special pleader, yes, yes, undoubtedly.
And now just a word more. I do not think that I would want to draw a character sketch of the Hon. Charles E. Littlefield, particularly when my powers of description are comparatively so defective, as the sketch furnished of him by the Lewiston Journal.52 Let me read it to refresh your memory: "A circuitous, capricious, spectacular statesman is finally described in the biography of the gentleman whose strange career we are debating. He is without republican influence in Congress, but his entertainments are enjoyed by the galleries. He converts nobody. If today his arguments are intended to convert a hearer to trust-busting, tomorrow his arguments are shaped to reconvert him to trust-building. In his earlier career in Congress and during a recess he appeared in Lewiston as a staunch champion of competition in telephony. In due season the color of the chameleon is changed for as hitherto noted he defended the betrayal of the solemn pledge that there should be telephone competition for local services granted on those express terms by the city government of Lewiston. Accordingly from whatever point of view this leader of the Littlefield-McCall53-Foraker party is studied, a compeller of whirlwinds and mixer-up at politics is described. He has appeared as one of the gentlemen handling the gates of hell at Bangor. He is a fine expert in the lingo of the limbos of sulphur."
My coming here is not without warrant. It is allowed by the constitution of the law of Maine. Morality demanded that I come here and speak to the citizens of Maine. Duty to my fellow-men impels me to do it, and I am here to tell you and the people of Maine the thoughts that I have in mind, the facts that I have thus far submitted and the facts that I shall further submit to the calm consideration of the manhood and the citizenship of the second district of Maine, and let me say that Webster in an address to the people of Madison, Indiana, remarked, "There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter,--from the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence I must confess I do apprehend some danger."54
Said John Quincy Adams: "The will of the people is the source and happiness of the people."
Said recently on April 14, 1906, President Roosevelt in the famous address "The man with the muck-rake,"55 "It is a crying necessity that if the present unrest is to result in permanent good the movement must be translated into action," and the great commoner, the man from your own State, the revered name of James G. Blaine, who sounded this warning cry, "The people must govern themselves, or somebody else will govern them." And so I say, men of business, men of the professions, men in the public life of Maine, men of labor of Maine arise in your might. Now is the time that tries men's souls, as truly as when that warning was sounded in the crucial days of the Revolution. It means oligarchy, it means trusts, it means government by corporations and corporate wealth, through their mouth-piece the corporation lawyers, or it means government of, for and by the people as proclaimed by Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln and the martyred men who sacrificed their lives for the nation's need.
Bury this man! Bury this man under the avalanche of your votes. Remember that John Hancock when he put his signature to the famous document in his bold hand, the declaration of independence, made this facetious but portentous remark to his co-conspirators of the Colonial Congress, "We will now be compelled to hang together or we will be hanged separately."
I say to you men, labor seeks to destroy nothing that could contribute to the nation's honor, to its wealth, to its progress, to its prosperity. We hope to make this country a still greater country, that it may not only be a haven for religious and political freedom, but the home of industrial liberty, where men may work and be free, and women may, if necessary, work and be free, but where the children shall not be dragged into the factories and workshops, the mills and mines and have their souls crushed out of them, but shall have the opportunity to grow up in the homes and by the firesides, shall be found in the schools and in the playgrounds imbibing God's sunshine and growing into the manhood and womanhood of the future. I urge you men, citizens of Maine, bury this mis-representative of yours under the avalanche of your votes on election day, and then you will have begun to have performed your duty. You will have begun to earn the reward that has been handed down to us for our safe-keeping and perpetuation by our forefathers. My friends and fellow-citizens, I urge you to unity of action. There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at its flood leads on to fortune; omit, and all their voyages are cast in miseries. The opportunity is here and now. It may not present itself again to you in a life time. Take advantage of it, men of affairs, men of labor, men who love our country. Organize, vote together and stand together.
Lewiston Evening Journal, Aug. 20, 1906.